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Virginity on the Rise, Studies Show

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It may go down as one of the most cringe-worthy kisses in television history—two virgins hitting first base on their wedding day.

Ryan, 31, and Shanna, 27, are part of TLC’s new show Virgin Diaries, an hour-long reality special that chronicles the lives of virgins in their 20s and 30s.

But while they may seem like a cultural anomaly, the National Center for Health Statistics finds virginity is on the rise. The number of virgins between the ages of 15 to 24 has increased in recent years—27 percent of men and 29 percent of women say they have never had a sexual encounter.

Virgin Diaries also includes three female roommates living together near Vancouver: Lisa Marziali, Tamara Larson and Danielle Michaud. All three are around age 30, and all are Christians.

In an interview with Nightline, Marziali said she has only kissed one boy.

“It’s not just, ‘I’m not going to have sexual intercourse,’ I’m actually going to honor the person that I’m with and they’re going to honor me,” Marziali said.

Michaud said she was engaged once: ”It’s challenging because of the stigma that’s associated with being a virgin, especially a virgin that’s older than whatever age people think they should be having sex by,” Michaud said.

And Larson is part of a subset of so-called “reclaimed virgins” who were once sexually active.

“I remember I would be lying there afterwards and half the time I would end up crying,” Larson said. “It was always this feeling that there’s something missing.”

But that doesn’t mean these three women aren’t ready to find love. The women are so ready for marriage and sex that they’ve diagrammed their dating life.

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and a research professor at Rutgers University, told Nightline there are down sides to waiting so late to have sex.

“They haven’t learned anything about sex. They haven’t learned about themselves, they don’t know how to handle anybody—not just in bed but in the courtship process,” Fisher said.

To Fisher, there seems to be a certain age people reach when it becomes odd to others when that person hasn’t had sex.

“I think that most Americans do think it is strange if you make it into your mid-, late 20s and you’ve never had sex. People wonder, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” she said. “Sex is natural. It’s an enormously powerful drive, and a fundamental part of human procreation.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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